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NHL fans on edge as league mulls possibility of suspending season amid virus pandemic

Last Updated Mar 12, 2020 at 10:46 am PDT

St. Louis Blues center Ivan Barbashev, not seen, celebrates his goal with center Jordan Kyrou (33), defenseman Colton Parayko (55), left wing Mackenzie MacEachern (28) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Summary

Hockey fans are awaiting the NHL's decision on whether or not to forge ahead with the rest of the season amid COVID-19

The NHL is deciding whether to follow in the footsteps of the NBA, which suspended its season on Wednesday

The WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday

UPDATE: The NHL has announced it will suspend its regular season over coronavirus concerns

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and the NBA made the decision to suspend its season, sports fans are now waiting on further league decisions.

The NHL season hangs in the balance, as the league holds a call with team representatives Thursday morning on the steps ahead. So far, the NHL has only advised clubs not to conduct morning skates, practices, or team meetings ahead of the decision.

The big question on everyone’s minds will be: How can the NHL go a different path than what we saw from the NBA?

“I don’t think so, and if they do you just go, ‘What kind of risk? And what kind of PR move is that?'” Sportsnet 650‘s Perry Solkowski said, adding a move to go ahead with the rest of the season could be seen by fans as greedy. “There are too many experts that have been in touch to say you can’t really have large gatherings.”

There is a key difference in both leagues’ situations, with the big one at this point being no NHL player has tested positive for COVID-19, whereas a member of the Utah Jazz has.

The NBA’s decision came only hours after the majority of the league’s owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.

The NHL will now have to decide if it will continue playing games in cities where there isn’t evidence of community spread — and maybe look to even move games or play them in empty arenas, as has been the case with other spots.

If that were the route the league wants to take, is it even viable?

“I wasn’t surprised that the NHL couldn’t automatically react so quickly and say, ‘Hey, we’re done,'” Solkowski said. “I will be shocked if we don’t hear something at some point today saying, ‘We are going to pull back and we’re going to suspend our league for a while.'”

There are 10 games on the NHL schedule for Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Whitecaps have been forced to apologize after someone at the club’s head office tried to downplay a season ticket holder’s concerns about COVID-19 ahead of the club’s match on Saturday at BC Place.

-With files from Tarnjit Parmar